A goal in each half was enough to put Fleet into the third qualifying round, as a second win and a clean sheet against Dover well and truly kept home fans’ interests alive in Tuesday’s draw.
Fleet never really looked in trouble in a game he was in control of and the only question was when the first goal would come, inevitably Dominic Poleon answering that question just before half-time.
Dennis Kutrieb named five changes for this cup tie while Dover added another former Fleet face to their starting lineup in Reece Grant to add in Lee Martin and Jake Goodman.
Fleet forced some useful set pieces in the opening minutes and Darren McQueen made a good save on Stuart Nelson after just three minutes and Fleet’s quick wide man drew an early penalty, Lee Martin had the chance to escape a 10th minute booking to transport him down. From the resulting free kick, Haydn Hollis sent a header from just wide.
Fleet was in no real rush while dictating most of the play, just spreading the ball and probing an opening – which Dover managed to close.
The odds were off but Josh Wright and McQueen combined for Bingham in the box in the 27th minute but he had little time to fire before he was squeezed out by several Dover defenders.
Fleet’s game plan was interrupted by an injury to Kieran Monlouis, necessitating Craig Tanner’s involvement sooner than expected. But the breakthrough came from the midfield berth five minutes from half-time, Hollis choosing Poleon in a small space and in classic fashion the top scorer hit double figures for the season with his 10th of the campaign thanks to a smart and powerful shot. .
Poleon might have netted 11 goals for the season with the very next attack, Tanner’s high delivery passing behind the Dover back line, but the visitors scooped this one up to clear. And right on the whistle, he had another long-range effort after Chris Solly robbed Luke Baptiste, forcing Nelson to get behind to save.
Tanner created Fleet’s first two chances after the break, finding both Bingham and Poleon, but both times Nelson made the save. The Fleet substitute then opted to go it alone when he nearly slipped a corner at the far post in the 51st minute but floated just past the post. He tried the same trick three minutes later and four minutes after, but the spectacular didn’t quite happen and the ball stayed out three times.
Dover’s best chance came just after the hour mark when Myles Judd did well across under pressure and Mitch Brundle met him at the far post, but Fleet did just enough to throw him off balance. Moments later Cousins had to save Luke Baptiste and it took some clever defending from Bingham to prevent the resulting corner from ruining Fleet’s lead.
The home side had to weather a lot of abuse from Dover and Lee Martin and Baptiste found themselves in the book as the referee had to keep an eye on things, especially with Grant trying to annoy Jombati and Hollis.
Fleet fans were forcing their team to take a shot when Poleon escaped at the break in the 72nd minute. Blocked on his way to goal, he passes wide to Tanner who in turn finds Wright but his shot is charged and sent behind.
Bingham closed with a header from the corner that shaved the post but when his luck was out, the following corner in the 74th minute produced the goods. While Bingham’s chance was well defended, this time it was Jombati who had too much space and he wolfed the ball high to head it past Nelson for the all-important second goal of the afternoon.
You would have put money on Poleon by adding a third four minutes later when he went wild mid-break but his shot went left of the post as Plow Enders tried to draw him in.
Substitute Toby Edser and at the other end Lee Martin had shots seen before Poleon took advantage of a slip in the Dover defense to attack Bingham as he accelerated in support, but the No 9’s shot went horribly wide – yet despite not having a third goal to match the previous game against Dover, the home fans will have come away very satisfied with this ninth successive victory.
CFEU: Cousins, Jombati, Martin, Hollis, Solly, Wright, Monlouis (Tanner 34), Chapman (Paxman 77), McQueen, Bingham, Poleon. Subs: Sterling-James, N’Guessan, O’Neill, Coulthirst
CFO: Nelson, Judd, Krasniqi (Wilkinson 77), Goodman, Brundle, Higgs, Pavey, Martin, Sterling, Baptiste (Wanadio 70), Grant (Kandi 70). Subs: Paxman, Moses, Carney, Byford
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